Cape Town - As British four-piece The Curious Incident get ready to play at Oppikoppi 21 - THE FANTASTIC MR. VOSVOS next month, Channel24 got hold of Cavey Roberts (vocals & guitar), Mirko Piconese (lead guitar), Dan Bowery (bass) and Diaz Meidiawan (drums), to find out what they expect from their trip into the dust, and life in the London music scene.
Channel24: You toured South Africa earlier this year and in 2012. What brings you to Oppikoppi this time round, and what have you heard about the festival? Approaching it just as another show?
The Curious Incident: Just another show? Just another show?! Cavey grew up in South Africa and so rightly knows that Oppikoppi is a legend. What mortal men would not want to be in the presence of greatness? We’ve heard about the black lung and the dust, the colaborations and the cameraderie and wouldn’t miss playing at Oppikoppi for the world. We’re going to make the festival jump!
C24: Your four band members come from different countries and different cultural backgrounds. Has this had any influence on the music you produce or does the band think with one mind?
TCI: The band thinks with one mind, albeit a schizophrenic one. London is such a melting pot of culture and our band is a little microcosm of the city we’ve made our home. Each ride on the Tube or one of those iconic London buses fills your ears with just about every language in the world. The city can also be daunting and unfriendly at times so we want to make music that brings people together and chips away at any urban self-consciousness.
C24: Your website says The Curious Incident is for those who like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Crystal Fighters, Vampire Weekend and UB40. Can fans who aren't familiar with your sound expect a combination of the above or something different with sprinkles of the above?
TCI: Something different peppered with the above. We say we taste like Jerk Chicken and Lemonade so you can expect a little sugar and spice with a little Afro and Caribbean influence in there too.
C24: What's the bands' opinion on selfies and selfie sticks?
TCI: We asked a stranger to take a photo of us when we were on tour in the Swiss Alps. 30 photos later and we got the sense that our ‘new friend’ was getting annoyed. So long-live the selfie stick! In all seriousness, we miss the days of needing to ask a stranger to take your photo. Society is sacrificing real human contact in order to get the best pic for their newsfeed. Media but not social. On the other side of the coin (penny), selfies can be great ways to share and engage with other people (and you could drag that would-be photographer into the photo itself) so, like drugs, it all depends on how you use them.
C24: The Curious Incident is still a relatively new band. How tough it is breaking out from the crowd, especially in a place as swamped with music and as diverse as London?
TCI: We’ll let you know once we feel that we’ve broken out. Playing music in London is like watching videos on YouTube, every few minutes there’s a video of a cat trying to steal your attention. It’s a huge city with lengthy commutes and people tend to stick to their neighbourhood and do what they did the week before and the week before that. It’s tricky finding your audience (unless you’ve got the BBC on your side) but now that we’ve got our first proper EP released and playing amazing opportunities such as Oppikoppi we’re starting to drag people into the sunlight.
C24: Being virtual veterans of South Africa, do other bands in the UK approach you for advice about playing in South Africa, and the type of crowds you've played to there?
TCI: Ha! I’d say that we’re still rookies when it comes to South Africa (although we’re very good at not hitting sheep on the Eastern Cape highways now). We’ve still got the vast majority of South African ears and eyes that we need to familiarise with The Curious Incident. We’ve definitely sung the praises of the SA music scene and the great bands we’ve played with to our friends and fans over here. Perhaps one day we can organise a big, beautiful tour to SA along with some of our favourite up and coming London bands.
C24: One of your latest releases is Might As Well Swim. The tone of the song to my uneducated ear appears to be upbeat but the lyrics tell a different story. What's the song about?
TCI: I like those juxtapositions of happy with sad or sad with happy. Might As Well Swim is about love triangles and not wanting to share. It’s about having your cake and eating it too. It’s about knowing what you’ve got to offer and telling your lover that they should know it too. It’s about telling your lover to make the right choice… choose you!
C24: What's been the toughest show the band has ever played, why, and how did the band move forward after that?
TCI: We’ve played a couple of shows where we were meant to be the background music. That was very hard for us as we’re used to interacting with the crowd and feeding off their reactions. It was a learning curve and taught us how to adjust in different circumstances. A festival we were booked for in London recently had to be called off as we arrived because the downpour of rain was a safety risk on stage. So we played an acoustic set under a tent (Diaz played a chair instead of drums) to the few people who had stuck out the weather. That was also outside of our comfort zone but it all went swimmingly and the die-hards really appreciated that the show still went on.
*Catch The Curious Incident at Oppkoppi, which is taking place from 7-9 August in Northam. Tickets for the festival cost R750 and are available here.
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